Council on Aging

Kristine Hayes

MY MATERNAL grandmother recently celebrated her 97th birthday. Until three years ago, she lived in her own home. Now, she lives in a senior apartment community, where she remains active and independent.

Part of my grandmother’s decision to move out of her home was prompted by her desire to be closer to family members who could assist in her care. According to a 2015 study, over the previous 12 months, more than 34 million Americans had provided some type of unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.

As I investigated the aging-in-place resources available to my grandmother, I came across the National Council on Aging (NCOA) website. Founded in 1950, the NCOA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to helping people age 60 and older with issues related to aging.

Want to learn more about Medicare? Head to an NCOA site, By entering some basic information, such as date of birth and zip code, visitors can retrieve information about Medicare-related programs specific to the area where they—or an aging relative—live. For someone like me, who hasn’t yet had to figure out the veritable alphabet soup of Medicare programs, the information was useful and easy to understand. As I pondered my grandmother’s situation, I found an article discussing the distinction between “home health care” and “home care” particularly enlightening.

Many NCOA programs focus on connecting seniors in low-and-moderate income brackets with potential resources. For instance, another NCOA site,, claims to have helped almost 7 million people find some $25 billion in benefits they, or their loved ones, are eligible for. Similarly, provides information on basic budgeting strategies, work programs and financial planning.

Also check out the NCOA’s Guide to Benefits for Seniors. For those of us who are helping to care for an elderly relative, it’s a great starting place to learn about the variety of services available to seniors.

Kristine Hayes is a departmental manager at a small, liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Her previous articles include Four Numbers, My Five Mistakes and Fueling the Fire.

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